By Andrea Warner
2 stars (out of 5)
How is it that five of the funniest lines to come off of the big screen this year could occur in the midst of such a woefully limp rock-out-with-your-cock-out Peter Pan comedy? (Example: “You’re like Vin Diesel wrapped in a Jeremy Piven pie.”)
The Rocker is Rainn Wilson’s first chance to prove he can move out from behind Dwight’s desk on The Office. Here he plays Fish, the rocker in question, who has never been able to get past being ditched by his hair-metal band, Vesuvius, 20 years ago. Wilson does a nice job conveying a seething stockpile of regret and blame, and he’s also game to prance around naked or in his underwear at every opportunity, proudly showing off his paunch. Matt (the sweetly affable Josh Gad) recruits his uncle Fish to join his teenage band, A.D.D., to play the prom. Next thing you know, the band is a YouTube sensation and an overnight success, and so must overcome the usual rock-movie clichés: growing up, selling out, teen angst, and insecurity. A.D.D.’s music is featured prominently throughout, all but defying the film’s title. (To be fair, High School Musical was already taken.)
Unfortunately, the laughs are few and far between, and the credit (and the blame) has to be spread equally between writers Maya Forbes and Wallace Wolodarsky, and director Peter Cattaneo. Each of their resumés is chock-a-block with great hits (The Larry Sanders Show, The Simpsons, The Full Monty) and sweeping misses (The Naked Truth), and each seems to fall for the misguided notion that it’s important for a comedy to wave its lessons around like football fans with foam fingers — and then beat us to death with those fingers.